Musician/Playwright David J to stage Black Dahlia – Madi Comfort Story at L.A.'s Bootleg Theatre

Rock musician and playwright, David J (David J. Haskins) will present his, The Chanteuse and the Devil’s Muse complete with original songs and music this month at the BOOTLEG THEATRE, at Beverly & Virgil, near downtown L.A.

The show will run for one month beginning SEPT 8th. [Sep 8-Oct 2, 2011] Thurs-Sats and will have a one night performance at the beautiful  MILLION DOLLAR THEATRE scheduled for November 12, 2011

 David’s play dramatizes the real-life1950 interview of Mattie Comfort (Madi) by DA Lt. Frank Jemison where Madi was interrogated as to who and what she knew about the Black Dahlia Murder as well as what information she could provide them  about her boyfriend, and their prime suspect– Dr. George Hill Hodel.

ghh madi comfort.jpg 

Should be interesting. See you there!

 Here is an excellent article/review from Splash Magazine’s on the upcoming show:


Article by Bryan Andrew Shackleford  from Splash Magazines

David J Tears OpenThe Chanteuse and the Devil’s Muse Review – Old Wounds with His Chilling New Take on the Black Dahlia Murder

The gruesome unsolved murder and dismemberment of the actress Elizabeth Short, better known as the Black Dahlia, has long been a spot of tarnish on the glitter of “Tinsletown.” Over the past seven decades, numerous books have been written and films have been made, which have all posed new theories on the case. David J, founding member and bassist for the iconic punk band Bauhaus, is posing his own theory on the identity of the Black Dahlia murderer in his new play, The Chanteuse and the Devil’s Muse

David J, director of The Chanteuse and the Devil’s Muse 

The musician and playwright previously presented “Silver for Gold: The Odyssey of Edie Sedgewick”, the story of the Warhol muse, to the Los Angeles theatre community in 2008 to critical acclaim. David’s latest play was inspired by the story of artist Madi Comfort, who had been a jazz chanteuse and actress in the 1940’s and 50’s. She is best known from her role as the jazz singer in the 1950’s film noir classic, “Kiss Me Deadly.”

On her deathbed in 2003, Madi Comfort revealed the identity of the Elizabeth Short’s killer, letting go of a heavy secret before she died. She had feared so much for her own safety that she held her tongue for nearly seventy years. Madi’s paramour, George Hodel, had been the prime suspect in the original Black Dahlia investigation. This story was the catalyst needed for David J to revisit a previously written song cycle and create The Chanteuse and the Devil’s Muse.

“With this production we are revisiting the ‘Black Dahlia’ song cycle that was originally composed for the independent feature film, ‘The Devil’s Muse’ directed by Ramzi Abed,” explains David J, “In this new theatrical staging, I am reuniting with my original musical collaborator, Ego Plum. Here the music works as a framework around which another related story is interwoven.


Daniele Watts, the actress playing Madi Comfort

The Chanteuse and the Devil’s Muse focuses on the police interrogation of Madi Comfort by Lieutenant Jemison. David found his own muse in NAACP Award-winning actress Daniele Watts, who will be playing the role of Madi Comfort, with special appearances by Obie Award-winner Tracey Leigh in the role throughout the run. Douglas Dickerman will play Lieutenant Frank Jemison. With live music performed by David J, Ego Plum and Ysanne Spevack (Smashing Pumpkins), The Chanteuse and the Devil’s Muse will also feature world-renowned Butoh performer Vangeline as the ghost of Elizabeth Short.

“There is a certain decadence to Los Angeles,” David has said of his interest in the darker side of the city, and drawing inspirations from its past. The culmination of music, theatre and stylistic performance in The Chanteuse and the Devil’s Muse, which explores one of the Los Angeles’ darkest mysteries, reflects that decadence.

The Chanteuse and the Devil’s Muse premieres at the Bootleg Theater on Thursday, September 8 at 7:30 PM. The show will play Thursday through Saturday through its closing performance on Saturday, October 1. Tickets are $25, with $18 discount tickets for students and seniors, which can be purchased through the Bootleg Theater website at


  1. Hugh MacDonald on September 27, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Hi Steve, Would be interesting if you compiled a list of the folks in your father’s circle who knew of his crimes…seems like a ton of people , notwithstanding the police, were well versed in his deeds…makes them all look pretty bad to me. Hugh

  2. Steve Hodel on September 27, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Hi Hugh:
    Good thought. I have done just that and will be presenting it in the sequel, BDA II, which I have now completed and hope to get out to the reading public in the relatively near future.
    You are right. There were a fair number in his “inner circle” that KNEW or at least strongly suspected he was the killer.

  3. luigi warren on June 26, 2016 at 10:12 pm


    Is there any chance Madi Comfort wrote the typed note to the DA you show as Exhibit 19 in “Black Dahlia Avenger?” The annotation (correction?) on the envelope, “Sorry, Greenwich Village, not Cotton Club,” could be consistent both with an old friend of Dorero and with a jazz/nightclub/Duke Ellington link. The little that was publicly disclosed of the letter’s contents seems consistent with the info with which Lt. Jemison confronted your mother. You suggest that Jemison didn’t know the name of the woman in the photos purloined by Joe Barrett, but why would investigators care about those pictures unless that somehow tied GHH to the Dahlia? Isn’t it more likely Lt. Jemison was feigning ignorance to get your mother talking off-guard about Madi Comfort?



    • Steve Hodel on June 26, 2016 at 10:29 pm

      LW: Possible, but I doubt it. Mattie made no disclosures on what she knew until after GHH’s death and my book published in 2003. Only two weeks after publication and seeing my “revelations” did she excitedly call her boyfriend, George and make the “We all knew it. There was no doubt.” Then she died just weeks later. The pictures showed GHH nude with an unknown female, and I’m sure detectives wanted to ID her in hopes of obtaining more information on him from someone who was obviously, quite intimate with him. I’m sure their showing the pics to mother was in hopes of upsetting her and maybe getting her to provide info on George. They never knew that or likely even suspected the girl in the photo was part of a manage a trois and as we know Dorero stonewalled them by indicatng she didn’t know who the girl with George was or her name. So, they had to find out through other sources.

      • luigi warren on June 26, 2016 at 11:31 pm

        I see. Still, one could offer an anonymous or covert tip to authorities and remain silent publicly. If anything, it would seem more remarkable if no one did that in this case. So the undisclosed contents of the “Cotton Club” letter are of interest. I take it the letter has been “lost” along with almost all the other evidence in the case. -LW

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